Here’s my column from last week’s Leader. It forms part of the paper’s comprehensive pre-match coverage every Friday, featuring interviews, an in-depth look at the opposition and lots of statistical analysis. All content in the column (c) www.leaderlive.co.uk.
A Wrexham side in turmoil at least has a chance to set things straight tomorrow against a side which has enjoyed its visits to The Racecourse.
Our record against Alfreton is rather bizarre. We’ve been to their patch four times and enjoyed three wins. However, in five games in North Wales we’ve lost three, drawn one and enjoyed just one victory, in an FA Cup tie.
Alfreton fist visited us in April 2012 as we were locked in the closing stages of a titanic title struggle with Fleetwood Town. Shortly before the break Anthony Wilson scored the only goal of the match before an impressive crowd of 4,673, which comfortably remains the biggest attendance at this fixture.
Seven months later we hosted them in an FA Cup tie which would see us capitulate in the most horrible manner. We appeared to be in command after an impressive opening half hour which saw us take a second minute lead through a Neil Ashton penalty.
However, Joslain Mayebi was to have a bad day at the office. He fumbled a free kick to gift Alfreton an equaliser, then inexplicably caught a corner then elbowed a striker in retaliation to a challenge when the ball was in the air. The referee pointed to the spot and sent Mayebi off, exposing Anthony Coughlin to a torrid last half hour.
Alfreton scored from the spot and exploited our desperation as we pushed forward with ten men. Soon afterwards it was 3-1, and although Danny Wright pulled one back, we were caught on the break in the final minute and went down to a 4-2 defeat.
Later that season Alfreton returned in the league. With Dele Adebola and David Artell making their debuts for us you could hardly argue we lacked the muscle for the job but apart from an early strike from Kevin Thornton in his first league start for us we lacked guile. Alfreton grabbed an equaliser early in the second half and held on for the draw with ex-Wrexham centre back Darran Kempson outstanding.
Another ex-Wrexham defender would be decisive in the league the following season. Chris Westwood scored a last minute winner to condemn us to a 3-2 defeat on Boxing Day after Mark Carrington had given us the lead and Leon Clowes had scored his only Wrexham goal with five minutes left to apparently earn a draw.
At least we gained some measure of revenge in the FA Cup, managing our only home win over Alfreton with a 3-1 win courtesy of two goals from Andy Bishop and a third from Jay Harris.
Our struggles against Alfreton are reflected by the fact that we go into our tenth match against them tomorrow looking for our first clean sheet in the fixture.
Hopefully we’ll get a helping hand at the other end from their defenders. Two of Alfreton’s current side have recently scored own goals for Wrexham: Luke Graham in the first minute of Wrexham’s 2-0 win over Hereford at The Racecourse last season, and Duane Courtney the season before in a 1-0 win at Tamworth.